Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Daunting Giants

To celebrate my 26th birthday, I went out with my med school buddies tonight and ate at CPK Shangri-La. It was also our first time to see each other since the results of the board exams came out a few days ago. One could then imagine the conversations that went on. For all of us, there came a point when the idea of failing the boards became very real. For Angel, it was the Legal Medicine exam. For Byron, it was the Internal Medicine exam. For most of us, it was the Pediatrics exam. I personally thought that all the clinical subjects were difficult (Surgery, IM, Pediatrics, OB-Gyn...). So on the night the results came out, I think there was a collective feeling of relief mixed in with the tremendous joy of knowing that our names were on the list of new physicians. I think no one in our little group will disagree with me when I say that it was an “act of God” that we were able to hurdle the 12 exams. I can't say this enough: Praise God!

Towards the end of the evening, over coffee, we got to talking about our new responsibilities as licensed physicians. See, as interns or even as clerks, we always had a licensed physician, a consultant or a resident, who had direct supervision over us and who was responsible for signing all the prescriptions and charts. If we didn't know what to do or what dosage of medicine to give, we had the option of asking. If something untoward happened to the patient, theoretically speaking of course, we would be excused from all legal responsibility since we were just trainees. Now, as licensed physicians in our own right, those “privileges” no longer apply. It's a scary thought, really. It made me realize that the 4 years I spent in medical school and the 1 year as an intern at The Medical City were inadequate to prepare me for clinical work. I'm sure I'd panic should I be required to captain a code (i.e., CPR in a hospital setting, with all the IV meds and defibrillators). I don't even know how to compute for dosages of the most basic cardiovascular drugs like dopamine and dobutamine. It becomes even more daunting now that some people come to me and joke about how they can now come and consult me about their medical problems, thinking that I know my stuff. Add that to the fact that now, with the license number I carry (or will carry -- it's still at the PRC), one wrong move and I can potentially be brought to court for it.

I received a letter from Angel's mom tonight, a congratulatory note. Towards the end of the letter, she quoted Jeremiah 29:11-13: “'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'” It gives me great comfort to know that despite all my imperfections and all my inadequacies, it was the Lord who ordained for me to become a physician. I am confident that this is what I am called by God to do. I only need to trust in His leading and ask for His wisdom. The responsibilities of a physician are truly, truly frightening. It's like a giant that rises into the air and casts a dark shadow around me. But my God is bigger, He is mightier, and He is wiser. His strength is sufficient for me.

Posted for posterity:

L-R: Jumbo, Anna, Angel, Jeff, Me, Chinky, Ivy, Byron, Donna

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